Lewis Evans

Project #1655.

W. W. Dixon,

Winnsboro, S. C.



Lewis Evans lives on the lands of the estate of the late C.L. Smith,

about ten miles southwest of Winnsboro, S.C. The house is a two-room

frame structure, with a chimney in the center. He has the house and

garden lot, free of rent, for the rest of his life, by the expressed

wish of Mr. Smith before his demise. The only other occupant is his

wife, Nancy, who is his third wife and much younger than Lewis. She does

all the work about the home. They exist from the produce of the garden,

output of fowls, and the small pension Lewis receives. They raise a pig

each year. This gives them their meat for the succeeding year.

"Who I b'long to? Where was I born? White folks tell me I born after de

stars fell, (1833), but maybe I too little to 'member de day. Just have

to go by what I hear them say. Think it was 'bout 1841. All accounts is,

I was born a slave of Marster John Martin, near Jenkinsville. Old

Mistress, his wife, named Miss Margaret. All I can 'member 'bout them is

dis: They had 'bout fifteen slaves, me 'mongst them. His daughter

married a doctor, Doctor Harrison. I was sold to Maj. William Bell, who

lived 'bout ten or twelve miles from old Marster. I's a good size boy

then. Maj. Bell had ten families when I got dere. Put me to hoein' in de

field and dat fall I picked cotton. Next year us didn't have cotton

planters. I was took for one of de ones to plant de cotton seed by

drappin' de seed in de drill. I had a bag 'round my neck, full of seeds,

from which I'd take handfuls and sow them 'long in de row. Us had a

horse-gin and screwpit, to git de cotton fit for de market in

Charleston. Used four mules to gin de cotton and one mule to pack it in

a bale. Had rope ties and all kinds of bagging. Seems to me I 'members

seein' old flour sacks doubled for to put de cotton bales in, in de


"Us raised many cows, hogs, sheep, and goats on de Bell place. Us worked

hard. Us all had one place to eat. Had two women cooks and plenty to

eat, cooked in big pots and ovens. Dere was iron pegs in and up de

kitchen chimneys, chain and hooks to hold pots 'bove de fire. Dat's de

way to boil things, meats and things out de garden.

"Whippin's? Yes sir, I got 'most skinned alive once, when I didn't bring

up de cows one Sunday. Got in a fight wid one of Miss Betsie Aiken's

hands and let de cows git away, was de cause of de whippin'. I was

'shamed to tell him 'bout de fight. Maj. Bell, dis time, whipped me


"My white folks was psalm singers. I done drove them to de old brick

church on Little River every Sabbath, as they call Sunday. Dere was Miss

Margaret, his wife, Miss Sallie and Miss Maggie and de two young

marsters, Tom and Hugh. De two boys and me in front and my mistress and

de two girls behind. Maj. Bell, when he went, rode his saddle horse.

"Who-ee! Don't talk to dis nigger 'bout patrollers. They run me many a

time. You had to have a pass wid your name on it, who you b'long to,

where gwine to, and de date you expected back. If they find your pass

was to Mr. James' and they ketch you at Mr. Rabb's, then you got a

floggin', sure and plenty. Maj. Bell was a kind master and would give us

Saturday. Us would go fishin' or rabbit huntin' sometime.

"Us had two doctors, Doctor Furman and Doctor Davis. White folks care

for you when you sick. I didn't have no money in slavery time, didn't

have no use for none. Us had no quarters, houses just here and dere on

de place, 'round de spring where us got water.

"My Marster went to de old war and was a major. He had brass buttons,

butterflies on his shoulders, and all dat, when he come back.

"De Yankees come. Fust thing they look for was money. They put a pistol

right in my forehead and say: 'I got to have your money, where is it?'

Dere was a gal, Caroline, who had some money; they took it away from

her. They took de geese, de chickens and all dat was worth takin' off de

place, stripped it. Took all de meat out de smoke-house, corn out de

crib, cattle out de pasture, burnt de gin-house and cotton. When they

left, they shot some cows and hogs and left them lying right dere. Dere

was a awful smell round dere for weeks after.

"Somethin' d'rected me, when I was free, to go work where I was born, on

de Martin place. I married Mary Douglas, a good-lookin' wench. A Yankee

took a fancy to her and she went off wid de Yankee. She stayed a long

time, then come back, but I'd done got Preacher Rice to marry me to

Louvinia then. Dis second wife was a good gal. I raised ten chillun by

her, but I's outlived them all but Manuel, Clara and John. When Louvinia

passed out, I got Magistrate Smith to jine me and Nancy. She's still

livin'. Home sick now, can't do nothin'.

"White people been good to me. I've been livin' in dis home, free of

rent, given me for life by Mr. Jim Smith, 'cause I was his faithful

servant twenty years.

"Many times I's set up in de gallery of de old brick church on Little

River. They had a special catechism for de slaves, dat asked us who made

you, what He made you out of, and what He made you for? I ain't forgot

de answers to dis day.

"Marster Major give us Chris'mas day and a pass to visit 'bout but we

sho' had to be back and repo't befo' nine o'clock dat same day.

"I got my name after freedom. My pappy b'long to Mr. David R. Evans. His

name was Steve; wasn't married reg'lar to my mammy. So when I went to

take a name in Reconstruction, white folks give me Lewis Evans.

"I b'longs to de Baptist church. Am trustin' in de Lord. He gives me a

conscience and I knows when I's doin' right and when de devil is ridin'

me and I's doin' wrong. I never worry over why He made one child white

and one child black. He make both for His glory. I sings 'Swing Low,

Sweet Chariot, Jesus Gwine Carry Me Home.' Ain't got many more days to

stay. I knows I'm gwine Home."

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